Michael Bay reveals his “special sauce” for movie explosions

Michael Bay has been talking to Empire about his secret recipe for making movie explosions look cool, ahead of his latest action movie Ambulance

Michael Bay's Ambulance and Pearl Harbor

If we can turn to any director as someone who reliably loves to blow things up, it has to be Michael Bay. Known for action movies such as Bad Boys, The Rock and Pain & Gain, as well as disaster movies Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, and the long-running Transformers franchise – Bay can always be counted upon to bring the Bayhem. But how does he do it? By following a very particular recipe, he recently told Empire.

Bay’s latest high-octane action movie Ambulance stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez. It’s a heist movie in which two thieves steal an ambulance to use as a getaway car when their plans go awry. It is set for release on April 8, 2022.

“There’s a special sauce for explosions,” Bay explained to Empire. “It’s like a recipe. I see some directors do it, and they look cheesy, or it won’t have a shockwave. There are certain ways with explosions where you’re mixing different things, and different types of explosions to make it look more realistic. It’s like making a Caesar salad.”

Bay is particularly proud of a huge explosion during the attack sequence in Pearl Harbor; “No-one knows how hard that is. We had so much big stuff out there. Real boats, 20 real planes. We had 350 events going off. Three months of rigging on seven boats, stopping a freeway that’s three miles away.” Pearl Harbor hoped to replicate the success of Titanic by combining romance with a real historical event, but it was unfortunately panned by critics.

After largely focusing on Transformers for the decade between 2007-2017, Bay returned to action with the Ryan Reynolds vehicle 6 Underground for Netflix in 2019. Having three critically-acclaimed actors in Ambulance may help Bay to find some positive reviews, but we’ll have to wait until April to find out.

While we wait, check out our guide to the best action movies.